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Vanessa Altin refugee talk

Wednesday 27 April saw journalist and author Vanessa Altin pay a visit to St John’s School, to speak to pupils about influences for her latest novel, The Pomegranate Tree.

“Go to the back of beyond, travel for another day, turn left and you will find the place where we will get married.”

This was the instruction given to Vanessa by her future husband. It was with this marriage and its 11,000 guests in an open and barren space on the Turkey/Syria border that Vanessa became part of the Kurdish community in Turkey, and began to learn about the fight they were engaged in to reclaim their homeland. It was also how Vanessa became acquainted with the plight of the Syrian refugees, fleeing the barbarity of war.

As a journalist reporting for British newspapers, Vanessa was given a task that she describes as searching the haystack to find the needle – looking for three British girls travelling through Turkey to reach Syria and join the forces there. She didn’t ever find them, but she did find a town of refugee children and their elderly relatives who had fled the war and stopped in relative safety.

Moved to do something to help, Vanessa raised much-needed funds, lent her support and has continued to do so ever since. Wanting to raise awareness of the plight of these children, she decided to write a book based on their experiences. The Pomegranate Tree is the resulting book, written to help children around the world understand the plight of these refugees.

Vanessa spoke movingly about her experiences and read from the book finishing to a hushed and thoughtful silence from the pupils listening. She was inspiring and thought-provoking and inspiration to all who had the chance to listen.

Published on 10/05/2016

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